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Fallen: A Novel by Karin Slaughter
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Delacorte Press Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345528209
Date: 21 June 2011 List Price $26.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / YouTube Book Trailer / Show Official Info /

Faith Mitchell, an agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) in Atlanta, is severely traumatized when a hostage situation goes terribly awry. Four men, all of them involved in drug trafficking, are dead and her mother Evelyn, retired police captain of a narcotics squad, has been kidnapped. Faith enlists the help of her partner, Agent Will Trent, and her boss, Deputy Director Amanda Wagner. The three of them race against time to locate the vindictive kidnapper--a kidnapper who begins delivering Evelyn to Faith one bloody piece at a time.

Karin Slaughter's Fallen is a violent, action-packed, woman-dominated noir that kept me intrigued from page one. It begins with a bloody bang and ends with a shocking revelation. Dark secrets involving family indiscretions and police corruption are revealed throughout the novel. Explosive, in-your-face assassinations keep the mystery suspenseful, tense, and fast-paced. I relish a bloody, high body count thriller and Fallen definitely delivers. Foul language, gritty murders, adultery and a grueling scene of torture make this an adults-only mystery.

The characters really came alive as though they were based on actual people. Most of the principal players are strong, highly intelligent, highly motivated women who have made significant contributions and obtained great status and respect in their fields, primarily law enforcement and medicine. However, several, especially Faith, reach their emotional breaking points. This only proves the realism of these characters; they are flawed like all of us. Faith is a single mother of two children and is diabetic. Her partner Will is very self-conscious and ashamed of his dyslexia; he is also trapped in a loveless marriage with Angie Trent--the psycho wife from Hell who is always threatening suicide if he tries to leave her.

Poor Will, who has the tall, sinewy physique of a Calvin Klein underwear model, is surrounded by attractive women. Some love him, some aggravate him, and some simply detest him. Most all of the other male characters in the novel are fallen police officers or young drug thugs. I couldn't help but surmise that Karin Slaughter's novels are written primarily for women who like violent, bloody crime noir. Since Fallen is my first Karin Slaughter novel, I could be wrong. However, I will definitely be reading the next one in this series.

Fallen is loaded with drama, drama, and more drama. Some of it is romance that deals primarily with Will who is involved in a love triangle between his disappearing wife and an emergency room physician, Dr. Sara Linton. Will has numerous psychological problems from when he was an abused orphan. Angie was also an abused orphan who grew up with him. They share history. No one, not even Sara, can sever their bond, even though it may be a destructive one. Sara has that age-old misconception that many women share: "I can fix him!" I am here to say, "No, honey, you can't. Keep dreaming."

The Mitchells are the epitome of the dysfunctional family. Everyone is constantly fighting, especially Faith and her brother Zeke, an Air Force physician. Her teenage pregnancy supposedly ruined his life. The deceased head of the household, Bill Mitchell, must have been a cold-hearted, judgmental control freak. The reader will eventually learn why I'm stating this. However, when danger threatens, the family tries to pull together. Deep down inside, they all love each other.

Past sins coming back to punish us seems to be a recurring theme in Karin Slaughter's kidnap thriller, Fallen. At one point or another, we all fall down. The difference is whether or not we try to pick ourselves up. I strongly believe that Fallen will satisfy devoted fans of Faith Mitchell and garner new ones, like myself. Those mystery readers who enjoy female-dominated noir will definitely want to seek out this one.

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